Fraudulent gas fitters put Plymouth homeowner at risk

An unregistered gas fitter and his employee have been prosecuted after carrying out illegal gas work and leaving a gas fire in a dangerous condition.

Ashley Rice, 41, who trades as Bathroom Inspirations, carried out extensive work at a house in Lipson between October and November 2012 with Gavin Bennett, also 41. It included disconnecting an old back boiler and installing a new gas central heating system.

The pair were prosecuted at Plymouth Magistrates’ Court today (4 April) by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) after a gas fire was found to be potentially dangerous.

The court heard that a Gas Safe Registered engineer visited the site and classed the gas fire as “At Risk” because there was insufficient ventilation in the room, which could have led to a build-up of poisonous carbon monoxide.

HSE’s investigations found that neither man was registered with Gas Safe and so were breaking the law by carrying out any gas fitting work.

Mr Rice also displayed the Gas Safe Register logo in his shop in Stoke, Plymouth, and claimed to be a registered engineer on his website, misleading customers that he was qualified and legally registered to do the work.

HSE served a Prohibition Notice on Mr Rice requiring him to remove the Gas Safe Register references, which he failed to do.

Ashley Rice, of Gray Crescent, St Budeaux, pleaded guilty to three breaches of gas safety regulations and a single breach of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974. He was fined £2,140 and ordered to pay costs of £2,500.

Gavin Bennett, of Union Street, Plymouth, pleaded guilty to a single breach of gas safety regulations and was fined £110 and ordered to pay £100 in costs.

HSE Inspector Simon Jones, speaking after the hearing, said:

“Ashley Rice and Gavin Bennett were not competent or registered to work on gas appliances.

“Members of the public have the right to believe and have confidence in the Gas Safe Register logo and Ashley Rice blatantly misled members of the public into believing that he was able to undertake work on gas when he had no qualifications for this at all. Even after being formally warned not to advertise as being Gas Safe registered he continued to do so in a deliberate disregard for the law.

“The poor standard of work in this case could have had tragic consequences for the homeowners.”

Russell Kramer, chief executive of Gas Safe Register, said:

“It’s vital that people only ever use registered gas engineers to fit or fix gas appliances. Every Gas Safe registered engineer has an ID card which shows who they are and the type of work they are qualified to carry out. Customers should ask to see this and check the engineer is qualified to do the job in hand.

“You can also check your engineer by calling us on 0800 408 5500 or by visiting link to external website.”

Further information about gas safety can be found on the HSE website